I was not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine just yet, as the Government of Belize was only vaccinating frontline health workers, senior citizens over 60 and those with underlying health issues. It is Phase I of the country’s vaccination program, but last week I was lucky to be recipient of the first of two shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
I was at the right place at the right time:
I was covering a story for the newspaper on the Minister of Health’s donation to the San Pedro Poly Clinic when I noticed a group of first responders in line to get their ‘COVID shots’. I decided to stick around for that too and cover the process. One of the recipients of the vaccine was not present so it was offered to anyone in the room willing to take it. I did not hesitate to volunteer, a bit nervous might I add, but so glad to get it.
Any Side Effect? People have been asking me.
It’s been a week since my ‘shot’ and I am glad to report no side effects from the vaccine. The area around the site of the injection did get a little sore for about a couple days, but nothing unbearable - felt like a slight bruise, although there was no discoloration of the skin.
I am very happy to see my fellow Belizean’s receiving the vaccine. It has been a very rough year for all of us - Ambergris Caye was one of the most hard-hit in the country. We saw how dependent the island is on tourism and that all went down to ZERO in no time. We had to close down our new restaurant and saw advertising on Ambergris Today disappear. With little to no income, island residents suffered.
The vaccine brings hope and I see people with less anxiety, less stress and having a more positive outlook. The island looks a bit busier, although we know there are still many businesses closed on the island. The road ahead may still be rough, but as tourist start rolling in little by little, there is hope that we get back to the ‘new normal’.
So I urge everyone to get vaccinated; protect yourself so that you can protect others as well. We still need to wear our masks, sanitize and practice social distancing. There are hotlines set up around the country to resister for your vaccination in your area. San Pedro residents can register online and when your time comes you will be called to get vaccinated. (Click Here) I am grateful I got the opportunity to do so.
I am grateful Belize is working hard to get its people protected. As of Monday, March 15, 2021 there have been 7,444 people vaccinated with the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Here is what I learned from the short briefing given to you before the vaccines are administered.
1. What COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is and what it is used for:
COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is a vaccine used to protect people aged 18 years and older against COVID-19. The vaccine stimulates the body’s natural defenses (immune system) by causing it to produce its own protection (antibodies) against the virus. This will help to protect you against COVID-19 in the future.
None of the ingredients in this vaccine can cause COVID-19.
2. How is the Vaccine given:
COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is injected into a muscle (usually in the upper arm). You will receive 2 injections. You will be told when you need to return for your second injection. The second injection can be given between 4 and 12 weeks after the first injection. When COVID 19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is given for the first injection, COVID 19 Vaccine AstraZeneca (and not another vaccine against COVID 19) should be given for the second injection to complete vaccination course.
3. If you miss your second injection
Local health officials will call you back when it’s time for your second shot. If you forget to go back at the scheduled time, ask your doctor, pharmacist or nurse for advice. It is important that you return for your second injection of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.
4. Possible side effects
Like all medicines, this vaccine can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them. In clinical studies with the vaccine, most side effects were mild to moderate in nature and resolved within a few days with some still present a week after vaccination. If side effects such as pain and/or fever are troublesome, medicines containing paracetamol can be taken. Side effects that occurred during clinical trials with COVID 19 Vaccine AstraZeneca were as follows:
Very Common (may affect more than 1 in 10 people)
- tenderness, pain, warmth, itching or bruising where the injection is given
- generally feeling unwell
- feeling tired (fatigue)
- chills or feeling feverish
- feeling sick (nausea)
- joint pain or muscle ache
Common (may affect up to 1 in 10 people)
- swelling, redness or a lump at the injection site
- being sick (vomiting) or diarrhea
- flu-like symptoms, such as high temperature, sore throat, runny nose, cough and chills
Uncommon (may affect up to 1 in 100 people)
- feeling dizzy
- decreased appetite
- abdominal pain
- enlarged lymph nodes
- excessive sweating, itchy skin or rash
You see, I learned that the vaccine is not the actual virus that is injected into your body. You are not receiving the LIVE Corona Virus, but simply parts of the genetic makeup of the virus. With that, your body can develop antibodies that will recognize the Corona Virus if it infects your body. By then, it will know how to fight it off before getting you sick. None of these symptoms mean you have been infected by the Corona Virus.